With a long weekend ahead, there’s even more time to enjoy some fun with the family. And one great way to spend some of that time is at the National Gallery of Art ‘s monthly First Saturday! The special day-long affair offers multiple free programs for kids of all ages.
On Saturday, September 2, the fun begins with a story time session for little ones. Hear a reading of the children’s book Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle in English and Spanish and stay for a little play time, too.
Then starting at 11am, all ages can enjoy even more: Create sculptures using Model Magic clay, try out the new Sketching Lab, and visit the museum’s pop-up library, where you can browse special selections from the Library collection and enjoy quiet activities for kids.
These free activities are offered throughout the East Building and don’t require registration. View more details and the full schedule of the day’s activities here.
Of course, plan for time to tour the exhibits, too!
First Saturday Where: National Gallery of Art, East Building | National Mall, DC When: Saturday, September 2, 10am – 3pm Admission: FREE!
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This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.
ARTECHOUSE has explored a variety themes and concepts through digital art since it opened in Southwest DC just over four years ago. The gallery known for its fusion of art and technology has presented exhibitions inspired by seasons, space, natural phenomenon, color, and more themes that are part of our human experience, though outside of our actual beings.
The newest exhibition, Life of a Neuron, takes us on the inside as it features the “thinking cells” of the brain.
As ARETCHOUSE describes it: “Life of a Neuron brings artists and scientists together for a groundbreaking collaboration to explore how the brain shapes the shared human experience. Through collaboration with the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s leading scientists and creatives, this immersive exhibit will allow us to experience a neuron—from pre-birth to death—providing an experiential view of life at a cellular level.”
Like all exhibitions there, the core installation is the digital projections in the main gallery. Trippy, captivating scenes swirl around the walls and floors while dramatic music plays in the background. It’s interesting to see what kinds of images and color combinations are coming next. (Note: While some past exhibits at ARTEHOUSE have been soothing and peaceful, this one isn’t so much, something to be aware of for kids who are sensitive to a lot of stimulation.)
The side galleries feature smaller installations with interactive elements. They looked intriguing, though to be honest, it was difficult to get a close look at all of them during the media preview, as we were trying to maintain space. (Timed-entry tickets during the exhibit’s run should keep that from being an issue.)
The bar is back open — Thursday – Monday, 11am – 10pm — with its menu of exhibit-inspired cocktails, plus beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. Sasha and I enjoyed refreshing sodas, and I recommend the Rosemary Cardamom! Be sure to download the ARTECHOUSE the app for the “extended reality” experience that transforms drinks into sparkling sensations!
Life of a Neuron
Where: ARTECHOUSE | 1238 Maryland Ave. SW
When: September 27 – November 28
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4
The National Gallery of Art reopened its doors last spring, and it’s been wonderful to return to one of our favorite museums again. Even better, it’s open daily, making it a go-to any day of the week. But this coming weekend, September 24-26, will be an especially great time to visit, as the museum hosts a Community Celebration honoring late pioneering artist Alma Thomas!
The in-person, on-site event will feature a variety of activities and experiences that explore Thomas’s life and her wide range of creative endeavors, all of them self-guided for Covid safety. Plus, there are extra goodies and discounts to enjoy while you’re there! The weekend offerings and festivities include:
· Free art kits with a coloring book of National Gallery works by local artists, coloring materials, and a cutout doll designed by Brittany Jackson, illustrator of the acclaimed children’s book Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment.
· A special flower displayinspired by Alma Thomas’s Pansies in Washington (1969)
· A display showcasing works by local community members, celebrating Alma Thomas’s art and legacy
· 50% discount on Alma Thomas-inspired gelato at the Espresso & Gelato Bar
· 15% discount on shops purchases with the code ALMA15 (onsite and online)
· A pop-up performance from Howard University Bands at 4pm on Sunday
Thomas’ painting, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, inspired by sights, sounds, & smells of DC
The event is part of a larger citywide celebration featuring a symposium with virtual sessions September 22-23. Geared toward adults, it will bring together noted scholars, artists, and curators to discuss Alma Thomas’s life and legacy, including an introduction by Michelle Obama.
The National Gallery of Art’s Community Celebration will take place in the East Building from 1-5pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Admission is free.
Why it took me so long to visit the Kreeger Museum, I really don’t know. I had heard about how great it was from my own daughter after she went there on a school field trip a few years ago, so it’s been on my radar. I just hadn’t actually been.
But I finally did get there and understand why Sasha enjoyed it so much! (My kids are at sleep away camp, so this was a solo visit.) Located in DC’s Foxhall-Palisades neighborhood, the Kreeger Museum is perfect for an art fix that’s gratifying without being overwhelming.
It’s not huge, but the collection, most of it from the 19th and 20th centuries, housed in several small indoor galleries and around its five acres outside is very impressive. Inside, there are works by Monet, Picasso, Miro, Calder, and many more celebrated artists. And the sculpture garden outdoors includes beautiful, interesting, even fun pieces.
Currently on exhibit, “Objects from the Studio: The Sculptor’s Process,” includes models of the sculptures outside, some that you can see right beyond the window. Another gallery features portraits of David and Karmen Kreeger along with info about their lives and philanthropic contributions to the art world.
The museum itself, both the interior space and outdoor architecture, are artfully designed, too. There are high arching ceilings, galleries built around a small courtyard, and expansive windows that bring in beautiful light and offer views of the art outside.
You have up to 50 minutes, which is plenty of time, to tour indoors before exploring the outdoor collection. That part starts on the terrace, where there are several large sculptures. Then you can wander the grounds containing all kinds of large-scale installations. On one side is a fountain/pool with seating and sculptures around it, a small patch of woods has art and a trail that loops around, a grassy expanse includes more large pieces, and there’s even a piece “climbing” on the side of building (my favorite), another snaking up a tree, and one that plays solar powered music.
Both adults and kids will be delighted — by all of it, indoors and out.
The Kreeger Museum is located at 2401 Foxhall Road. It’s open Tuesday – Saturday with timed-entry sessions: 10-10:50am, 11-11:50am, 2-2:50pm, and 3-3:50pm (the 50 minutes is for indoor self tours, then you can spend time outside). Admission is free, and there’s a suggested donation of $10/adult, $8/senior. Tickets need to be reserved in advance, and there’s plenty of availability right now.
KFDC Tip: Plan on lunch or an ice cream treat at Jetties before or after — it’s located right down Foxhall Road and they have delicious sandwiches, salads, and scoops!
You have to be on the ball to score tickets to Glenstone, the modern art museum sprawling gloriously over 300 acres in Potomac, MD. Even pre-Covid, passes were hard to get. They are released on the first of every month for timed-entry admission for the following two months. So, tickets that are released tomorrow, April 1, will be for visits in May and June. This takes some patience and planning, but I promise it’s worth it. [Update: They now offer Guaranteed Admission for students age 12+, active-duty military personnel, and staff from other museums — and one guest can join them.]
Glenstone is more than just a museum; it’s a whole experience. One that transports you to what feels like a destination far, far away from the city. Both indoor galleries (that should start to reopen April 8) and expansive grounds showcase a remarkable collection and traveling exhibits that are interesting, evocative, and beautiful. Design and architectural features are practically works of art themselves, and you will likely find yourself studying lines of the buildings and the pool of aquatic plants in the courtyard as much as the paintings and sculptures.
Exploring all of it on foot in the galleries and along paved paths spanning through open grassy areas, trails winding through woods, and boardwalks that zigzag over thick brush (or straw during cold months) add some recreation to the outing. It’s like an art-filled hike or an active art adventure. There’s also a cafe to make it a lunch date or to enjoy a snack in a very scenic setting.
Pick up a paper map on your way in or scan a QR code for one. You definitely want to know where you’re going as some of the outdoor installations are a bit hidden, and you don’t want to miss them. Inside, the galleries are numbered, so make sure you count them all off, too. There’s at least one that is easy to miss, and we had to search a bit to find it (though that also added some extra fun).
With its 12-and-older age policy for visitors, Glenstone is automatically a spot for the T(w)een Scene. And while this may be a bummer to parents with younger kids, I get why they do it. It’s not just that the art might be considered sophisticated for little ones. (In the “eye of the beholder” vein, I think all art could be enjoyed and appreciated on some level by every age.) Part of the Glenstone experience is the peaceful, “contemplative environment,” as they call it. I could see it being tough to keep kiddos from wanting to bolt through wide open spaces outside and use inside voices in the echoing galleries. I’ve been a few times sans kids, with friends, and on my own — a different season each visit — and I highly recommend it for a grown-up outing, whether a day date, a visit with friends, or solo.
That said, both of my kids are finally old enough to go, and I’m looking forward to bringing them. I had tickets for all us to visit when they had a day off from school recently, but a crazy downpour that day thwarted those plans. Thus, I’ll be online tomorrow trying to score those elusive tickets again.
Glenstone is located at 12100 Glen Road in Potomac, MD. It’s currently open Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm. You must have a ticket to visit. As mentioned, free tickets are released the first day of every month at 10am for the following two months. Photography is not permitted indoors, hence all the outdoor images here.